“We’re making huge progress!” What depends on there being a player in Barcelona and when we can organize a women’s final

Emma Barsan She is the Director of Women’s Football Development at FRFA position he has held since 2020. She is responsible for coordinating and communicating with women’s football clubs and supervising internal competitions and national teams. Responsibilities are delegated to other managers, but while maintaining direct communications, so that the FRF can control and get quick answers and solutions to all obstacles, but also to develop this phenomenon.

Emma has been in the union since 2017, after her exit from the sports press. I discovered a passion for tennis when I was a teenager Women’s football While studying at university, he fell in love with her and became one of the few Romanian journalists specializing in this field. She graduated with an analysis of how FRF communicates about women’s football, was part of the organizing team for Euro 2020 in Bucharest, and graduated last year with a degree in UEFA Management in football, one of the strictest in the world.

What is the difference in women’s football compared to five years ago?

In recent years, we have seen an exponential growth of women’s soccer compared to before. Our program toy makerFor girls between the ages of five and eight, the first steps in football are taken. Caught very well in kindergarten and schools, clubs asked us. We now have 96 centers across the country and we want to increase the number. Then we organize school competitions, such as the Tymbark Cup, which ties into the eight-year-old U11’s. We have four junior competitions – U11, U13, U15, U17where you can take the step for the elderly.

Before there was only one junior competition, which was generally called the “Junior League”, there were only a few age groups that you should be a good fit for. This path was not created for players, who can now start playing football at a young age and continue through these steps, even the top teams. Previously, many players would come after other sports, such as handball, gymnastics, athletics … Many players, who are now part of the national team, did not follow this sports training path, because there were no such competitions, at that moment .

At the senior official level, how has the competition changed?

We’ve also put an age limit on League 1, so girls under 15 can’t play, on the one hand to increase the level of competition and on the other hand as players who reach the first tier of promotion there, after the training period. In the adult there are three leagues. League 1 It has 12 teams, League 2 It has 17 teams and League 3 Fifteen teams will participate, including the space teams of some first-class clubs. From the 2022-2023 season, at the first level, we will also have the women’s teams of the Men’s League 1. We will have about 14 new teams, because some have already signed with big teams in League 3, such as Sepsi and Voluntari.

In women’s football, starting from next season, we can see the big derby Steaua – Dynamo, FCSB – Dynamo, FCSB – CFR Cluj, FC Argic – Petrol or Dinamo – Craiova. We already have matches to be proud of at the junior level. The big surprise was FC Argeș, who went into their first year U15 final with Olimpia Cluj, forming a team from scratch, not by taking over an already existing club. And in women’s football, there are areas that can become important nurseries for talented players.

The development was forced a little by the FRF, because some leaders did not approve of these programs …

At first, women’s football was seen as alien and forced by the French Football Federation, but in discussions I had with men’s football, with officials in Ligue 2 and Ligue 3, they soon came to ask for information on how to create the junior teams. There used to be boys’ teams, where girls came with boys to train, and now they want to have teams dedicated to women’s football.

There is a great deal of interest, especially since FRF has several development programs. Some football leaders have complained about the need to have women’s teams, but the costs are much lower. However, the FRF provides support for clubs. At the entry level, transportation is settled in addition to accommodation if it is more than 250 km away. We also support the top teams, but we also need some local or logical support for these teams. We need the support of clubs, sponsors and local authorities to move to the next level of performance.

When will we see the impact of these reforms?

The fruits of this development will not appear in a week or a month. The last two competitions, U11 and U17, we set up in 2020. Unfortunately, it was a pandemic year. Many teams entered, but junior competitions suffered the most due to restrictions. It was only played in March, and it wasn’t an ordinary competition, because we had to ramp up everything. We couldn’t figure out the impact of the competition at the time.

This season, everything is going exactly as it should. In U15 and U17, we’ve also changed the format, because we’d like to have the Elite League starting in the fall. The girls played a regular season, and then, based on the results, the teams were divided into two valuable groups, the best in group A, which should be preserved or go to the final tournament, and others in group B, which could advance. We have increased the number of teams, and now we want to increase the quality of the competitions.

Is there an interest in women’s football in the field of sponsors and television?

The national team played at the Arcul de Triumf, and for the first time we had an official match in Bucharest. There were a lot of spectators. We try to perform with the national team, and then repeat the success in the first league. Two weeks ago, we broadcast the first match of Women’s League 1, on Pro Arena, between “U” Olimpia Cluj and Heniu Prundu Bârgăului, and the audience was within the confines of the male matches which makes us happy. We already have dedicated communication channels for national teams and women’s leagues, and we’ve seen an increase in them.

I believe that Liga 1 Feminin and the women’s national team can become two important brands for FRF, which can help us attract more sponsors and sell TV rights to matches. Several club teams already have sponsors, national teams have the support of Fortuna and Penny, FRF partners, Head & Shoulders was a special sponsor of the women’s national team, but unfortunately, the contract was not extended. We want to name a sponsor for the tournament. I think the commercial potential of women’s football is huge, but we need to increase the quality of the product, first the infrastructure, and then to properly accommodate the audience.

How was the match with Switzerland?

The match with Switzerland was the culmination of this campaign. It was the first official match played by the women’s national team in a stadium in Bucharest, and the girls felt comfortable at the Arc de Triomphe. We have worked a lot on the sporting side, on the marketing side and on the communication side. The result was amazing, both on the field and in the stands. It is a zero moment, a start towards what we want to achieve in the future.

We still have arithmetic chances of qualifying for the 2023 World Cup, we are third in the group, six points from Switzerland, but we have one less game. We also met with Moldova, Lithuania and Italy, the leader of the group. It’s hard to catch second place and the playoff, but we have to believe in our chance until the end. After the match with Moldova, scheduled for June 24, we want to play a friendly match, we will establish the opponent.

How did you manage to bring two experienced coaches in men’s football to the national teams?

We are delighted that Mr. Stoichi was able to convince Kristi Dolka and Aeon Marin to join the women’s national teams. They are experienced trainers and have integrated excellently. They said that the philosophy of football is the same, whether they are boys or girls. But it is not easy to work with girls, maybe they are more sensitive and you need a different approach towards men’s football. They are true professionals and have adapted well to women’s football. Now we have to give them as many talents as possible in order to get very good results.

Could we have a Barcelona player, for example, before a Romanian footballer got there?

I think we can have, in the coming years, Romanian players in Barcelona, ​​Lyon, Wolfsburg, Chelsea or PSG, the best teams in Europe. We already have footballers for good teams from abroad, such as Andreea Părăluță from Levante, Olivia Opera from Villarreal, and Camelia Cesar now in Rome, after playing in Turin, Brescia and Milan, Antonia Prato under contract with Sassuolo, Christina Karp was in Sampdoria and now signed with Como. , Laura Ross played a lot abroad. It depends on the potential of each player and how well he works, but also on the level increase in League 1 and the future results of the national team. I think we can make great transfers in the future.

We also have many good players, from Romanian parents, born or raised abroad. We have, for example, Medellina Tetar from Benfica Lisbon, Alexandra Tonoya from Chievo Verona, Tiffania Caserio from Tottenham … We carefully monitor all the players who play abroad. We have also expanded our antennas to include the women’s football detection area, because we expect to have many very valuable players qualified to participate in the Romanian national teams. Selectors want to have a record and be able to follow their progress and developments.

What directions should Romanian women’s football take, from now on?

We are seriously considering qualifying for Euro 2025 and the 2027 season. We have high hopes for my U-17 and U19 teams, as we have a very good junior team. We have an exceptional generation, we want the French Football Federation and the clubs to help them make a successful leap for the elderly. In the next three to five years, the good things we did in the local tournaments should be seen. Women’s football is no longer seen as a commitment or a fashion, I think we can achieve very good results in the near future, in addition, the number of girls who want to play football is very high.

I am sure that we can also organize an important women’s football competition. After experiencing Euro 2020, I don’t think we will have any problems. Now we have the stadiums. Only in Bucharest we have the National Circuit, Steaua, Rapid, Arc de Triomphe and Dinamo to be built, we can organize a competition only in the capital, without placing new arenas from the rest of the country. We express our intention each time to host a final tournament. Until now, we didn’t have the infrastructure to host a tournament of this scale. For the selection of the host country, the trade area is taken into account, the audience interested in coming to the stadium. If we increase the level of internal competitions and the national team through results and qualifications we will attract more and more spectators and I think we will solve this problem as well, then we can host the final tournaments.

Text and image – Gabriel Scheria, Contributor to Sport.ro

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